How Ayn Rand Ignites Appreciation of Capitalism

What, in a nutshell, is Ayn Rand’s case for capitalism? How did her views contrast with libertarianism? anarchism? conservatism?

These are some of the questions addressed in my conversation with the coeditors of Foundations of a Free Society, an important new book on Ayn Rand’s political philosophy.On the book’s release, my colleague Keith Lockitch called it “a much-needed addition to the literature on Rand” and a resource of special interest to “the growing number of students active in what’s widely called the pro-liberty student movement.” Now available on Kindle, the book does a superb job of situating Rand’s views in relation to other thinkers and drawing out key points of contrast.

My conversation with coeditors Gregory Salmieri and Robert Mayhew and two chapter authors, Harry Binswanger and Onkar Ghate, took place at Objectivist Summer Conference 2019. Watch or listen to the panel discussion to get a sense of just how illuminating the book is. Among the topics we touched on:

  • The essence of Rand’s case for laissez-faire capitalism;
  • How Rand’s writings have ignited in many people an appreciation for capitalism;
  • The scope of Rand’s influence in the culture and on political movements;
  • Why Rand’s view stands in fundamental opposition to anarchism;
  • How Rand’s political theory relates to the work of philosopher Robert Nozick, author of Anarchy, State and Utopia;
  • How Rand’s theory of value relates to the views of the Austrian school of economics.

One point that emerges from the conversation is the pivotal role of nonfiction books in growing and advancing an intellectual movement such as Objectivism. There’s an enormous, ongoing need for such intellectual work. But on what topics? Make sure you catch the part when I ask the panelists to name some fields that they’d like to see future Objectivist scholarship explore.

Does Success in Life Require Compromise?

The issue of compromise comes up all the time, everywhere. To have healthy, meaningful relationships, we’re advised to seek out a middle ground. In the workplace, we hear, it’s vital that we compromise.

Even as some people insist that compromise is a guiding principle of social life, it’s clear that not every compromise leads to desirable outcomes.

Sometimes, it can be toxic to a relationship. Or, it can sink your business. Sometimes you need to say no. But when should you compromise — and when should stand your ground? How can you tell?

Ayn Rand’s philosophic analysis of compromise is enormously clarifying. It equips us to know when a compromise can enable win-win outcomes — and when, instead, we should refuse to give ground. In a recent webinar, part of our series Philosophy for Living on Earth, I discussed aspects of Rand’s view of compromise, drawing on her essay “Doesn’t Life Require Compromise?”

I emphasized Rand’s observation that one should compromise only on the details or particulars within a mutually agreed principle, but never on a principle. When you buy a car, for example, you and the seller negotiate — come to a compromise — on the final sale price — within the mutually accepted principle of trade. But a “compromise” on a basic principle, on what you know to be true and right, is destructive: it means violating your convictions and selling out.

I strongly encourage you to read Rand’s essay “Doesn’t Life Require Compromise?” which is laden with insights that can help you navigate your personal relationships, your work, and your life. For more on Rand’s view of compromise, and the crucial role of principles in life, take a look at “The Anatomy of Compromise” (reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal).

Here is the webinar with Q&A:

Journo on Capitol Hill: What Justice Demands Launch Event

A Capitol Hill launch event marked the publication of ARI senior fellow Elan Journo’s latest book, What Justice Demands: America and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

The July event, cosponsored by the Middle East Forum and the Ayn Rand Institute, was aimed primarily at congressional staffers, and it featured talks by Daniel Pipes, a scholar and the president of the Middle East Forum; Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio; and Rep. Ron DeSantis of Florida…. Read on.

[video] Making Sense of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is as complicated as it is controversial. This summer I gave a talk that unpacks the conflict and makes it more intelligible. In the talk, which is now online, I explore how intellectuals conceptualize and debate the issue, and spotlight the distinctive value of an Objectivist perspective on it. The talk is a kind of preview of certain points in my upcoming book, “What Justice Demands: America and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” Watch it now.